Why A First-Round Loss Was 'The Best Thing That Ever Happened' To Tsitsipas
”It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me,” Tsitsipas said ahead of the Swiss Indoors Basel, where he is seeded third. “I stayed in New York for six or seven days after and it gave me time to discover new things. It was important for me to enjoy and realise what I needed in my life.
”It was my decision to live life how I wanted to, not how others wanted me to. There was a time last summer when I doubted myself, [thought] that I wasn’t interesting as a person. I wanted to be someone else, but now I understand that it’s awesome to be myself.”
Since New York, the #NextGenATP Greek has succeeded with his unique brand of tennis. He finished runner-up in Beijing (l. to Thiem) and scored a win over World No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to a semi-final showing at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. The pair of results helped clinch his maiden appearance at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, held from 10-17 November at The O2 in London.
Tsitsipas also credited his recent form with a different approach to his tennis. In keeping with the need to be himself, he decided to accept his limitations and play to his strengths. A player with as much variety as Tsitsipas can sometimes have difficulty selecting what shot to hit, so the Greek opted to keep things simple on the practice court and in matches.
"I practise more efficiently. I focus on things that may work not in the long term, but [will] in the short term. I know where I should push more,” Tsitsipas said. “Before, I was always seeking more and didn’t really understand what my orientations were. That would make me crazy, even during matches, and I’d have outbursts.
"I took things way too seriously and thought that was how I got the titles, whatever I was pushing towards. I was pushing way too much and sometimes I have to enjoy it. I can’t win every single week."
But Tsitsipas isn’t just making changes on the court. Once an avid social media user, he let his manager handle his personal accounts and deleted all of his social media apps (except for Gidget and WhatsApp). He believes the decision sparked more authentic interactions in his life and allowed him to relax away from the court.
"I’m not checking Instagram on my phone for 30 or 40 minutes like I used to. It was really stressful and drove me crazy a little bit,” Tsitsipas said. “I feel a difference in my behavior and how I feel. I can connect with people better. Being away from social media and spending more quality time is one of the best things that’s happened to me.”
After a challenging four-month stretch this season that saw Tsitsipas endure six opening-round exits, he has emerged as a stronger player. Although the Greek would love to clinch his first ATP 500 title in Basel, the end result won’t deter his belief that he’s moving in the right direction.
"I’m currently in the best state of my life,” Tsitsipas said. “It doesn’t have to do with results or playing good tennis or bad tennis. I’ve been feeling very happy and very well. I’ve been enjoying life more in general and that reflects in my game. It makes me happy and makes me want to live better.”